Cas de force majeure

Cas de force majeure
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Legal French Expression

Meaning (event of) force majeure, case of absolute necessity
Literally case of great(er) force
Register normal
Pronunciation French sound files [kah deu fuhrs mah zheur]
IPA   [ka də fɔʁs ma ʒœʁ]

Usage notes: There are hundreds of French expressions commonly used in English, but their meanings usually get distorted somewhere along the way. That’s not the case with un cas de force majeure, which has two distinct meanings in both languages. The only difference is that in English, the expression is shortened to just "force majeure."

1. Contract law and business

A man-made disaster (e.g., vandalism, arson, strike, terrorism) or natural disaster (flooding, tornado, earthquake, lightning strike) which is unforeseen and/or unavoidable, and which may invalidate a contract.

Par exemple…

La Société ne peut être tenue responsable en cas d’inexécution totale ou partielle du contrat lorsque celle-ci trouve sa cause […] en cas de force majeure.
The Company cannot be held liable in the event of full or partial non-execution of the contract when this is … in the event of force majeure.
Source: Isodisnatura

Toute annulation du fait du client doit obligatoirement nous être transmise par écrit, elle entraînera des frais d’annulation (sauf cas de force majeure).
Any cancellation by the client must be submitted to us in writing and will entail cancellation fees (except in case of force majeure).
Source: Corsicatours (PDF)

2. International and military law

An incident or disaster (e.g., a hurricane) that allows something to happen (a plane to land without permission) that would normally be considered an act of aggression.

Somewhat synonymous

  • une catastrophe naturelle – natural disaster, act of God

(It’s only partly synonymous since force majeure includes both natural and man-made disasters.)

 Related French vocabulary

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Un cas de force majeure

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